How to dress for a funeral: 14 steps (with pictures)

How to dress for a funeral: 14 steps (with pictures)
How to dress for a funeral: 14 steps (with pictures)

Funerals are very sad events and you should respect the atmosphere by dressing appropriately. At a funeral, you will usually need to wear classic, dark-colored attire. Choose dark, understated pieces and minimalist accessories. In some cases, the family of the deceased might ask those attending the ceremony to wear a particular outfit or color. In this case, ignore the conventional label. During a funeral, the most important thing is always to respect the wishes of the family of the deceased.


Part 1 of 3: Choosing the right clothes

Dress For a Funeral Step 1

Step 1. Choose black or dark colored clothes

Traditionally, people attending a funeral dress in black. However, not everyone adheres strictly to this tradition anymore. It is then not uncommon, at a funeral, to see people dressed in dark gray or navy blue. If you choose not to wear black, be sure to stick with dark colors anyway.

  • If you choose not to wear black, stick with dark, neutral hues, like navy blue, dark gray, dark green, or brown.
  • Before choosing your outfit, find out what type of funeral it is. For a rather traditional funeral, it will always be better not to be fancy and to wear black.
Dress For a Funeral Step 2

Step 2. Avoid bright colors

Never wear bright colors to a funeral. Primary colors, such as blue, red, and yellow, could be interpreted as disrespecting and offending the family of the deceased. In some cultures, red is a sign of celebration. It is therefore particularly important to avoid this color.

  • Your outfit should be completely devoid of bright colors. A black dress with a hot pink hem or a black suit over a red shirt, for example, is not appropriate outfit for a funeral.
  • However, there are rare exceptions to this rule. In some cases, the family of the deceased might ask guests to wear bright colors, or a specific color, to pay tribute to the deceased. In this case, respect the wish of the family.
Dress For a Funeral Step 3

Step 3. Wear formal attire

Funerals are sad events. Instead, choose an outfit that you would wear to a professional interview rather than an outfit that you would wear to a nightclub. In some cases, the family may ask participants to wear less strict outfits, to pay tribute to the deceased. Nevertheless, unless it is specified, always prefer to wear a formal outfit.

  • A black, dark gray or navy suit or suit will always be fashionable. Dress pants and ties should also be dark in color. You could also wear a dark shirt and a dark tie.
  • At a funeral, it is generally recommended to prefer long dresses or skirts. Avoid clothing that is too tight, as the result may not be appropriate. For example, wear a dark-colored blouse and dark tailored pants.
Dress For a Funeral Step 4

Step 4. Choose sleeves of the correct length

In general, it is inappropriate to wear clothes that are too bare during a funeral. Avoid sleeveless clothing or very short sleeves. Always prefer long sleeves. If you want to wear a black sleeveless dress, cover your arms with a shawl or vest.

Dress For a Funeral Step 5

Step 5. Prefer plain clothes to patterned clothes

As long as they aren't too extravagant, the designs can be worn at funerals. A floral skirt or a striped shirt can be sober enough for a funeral outfit. However, original and flashy patterns are to be avoided, especially when they are in bright colors. A black shirt with red polka dots, for example, is not a very good choice for a funeral.

Nevertheless, always remember to respect the wishes of the family of the deceased first and foremost. You might then be asked to wear a specific pattern

Part 2 of 3: Choosing the accessories

Dress For a Funeral Step 6

Step 1. Choose formal, yet comfortable shoes

This is especially important if you are going to participate in a vigil or a burial after the ceremony. At a funeral, you may have to stand for a long time and walk a lot. You should then wear comfortable shoes. High heels, for example, will not be ideal. Also, make sure the shoes you choose are formal and dark in color.

  • Black ballerinas or dark dress shoes will then be a good choice. Classic dark green, navy blue or gray shoes will also be appropriate.
  • If it's not a very formal funeral, you could also wear sneakers or dark converse. However, if you are not sure of yourself, always prefer to choose a more classic model.
Dress For a Funeral Step 7

Step 2. Choose a classic tie

If you wear a tie, be sure to choose an understated model. Ties in bright colors or with eccentric patterns should generally be avoided. For a funeral, prefer a plain tie. Also make sure that your tie is dark, for example dark green, navy blue or gray.

There are, however, exceptions to this rule. If, for example, the deceased gave you a fancy tie, the family might appreciate your wearing it. Prefer then ask them to validate your choice before the ceremony, so that your gesture is not misinterpreted

Dress For a Funeral Step 8

Step 3. Wear discreet makeup

If you are doing makeup for a funeral, go for minimalist makeup. A funeral is a formal event, and just as you wouldn't wear extravagant makeup to the office, don't wear that makeup to attend a funeral.

  • Wear for example a light foundation and a nude lipstick. Add a touch of blush, if you like, as well as a very pale eye shadow and mascara.
  • As always, there could be exceptions, depending on the wishes expressed by the family of the deceased. If, for example, a theater actor is buried, his family might ask participants to wear more eccentric and theatrical make-up.
Dress For a Funeral Step 9

Step 4. Go for classic jewelry

If you are unsure of what jewelry to wear, then it is totally appropriate not to wear it. In fact, by not wearing jewelry, your outfit will be darker. Nonetheless, if you are keen on wearing jewelry, stick to classic pieces. A row of pearls will then be more appropriate than a large colorful fancy necklace.

If you wear earrings, choose a model that is respectful. Large hoop earrings or dangling curls might be too flashy for a funeral. Then prefer small discreet curls

Dress For a Funeral Step 10

Step 5. Choose a pocket square of the right color

If you wear a pocket square with your costume, you will need to choose it dark in color. Then choose a navy blue, dark green or gray handkerchief. A pink pocket square will generally not be appropriate for a funeral.

Part 3 of 3: Factors to keep in mind

Dress For a Funeral Step 11

Step 1. Consider religious aspects

If a religious ceremony is organized, there might be special rules regarding the dress code. Then be sure to find out about the religious practices of the deceased's family and do some research. See if the members of this community follow any special rules for burials. Always respect the religion of the deceased.

  • For example, in some religions, women are required to dress extremely modestly to attend a funeral. Do not wear a dress or a skirt that is too short.
  • By doing a little research online, you can learn more about the religious rites of the family of the deceased. However, it will always be preferable to seek advice from a loved one. This person will be able to tell you the dress codes to respect.
Dress For a Funeral Step 12

Step 2. Consider the culture of the deceased

If the deceased and his family are from another country, perhaps the colors to wear at the funeral could be different from those recommended above. While in Western countries dark colors are usually worn to attend a funeral, this is not the case in all cultures.

  • In some cultures, bright colors are indeed a sign of mourning. In Korea, blue is the color of mourning, while in Egypt, Ethiopia and Mexico, it is yellow.
  • In some countries in the Middle East, people traditionally dress in white to attend funerals.
Dress For a Funeral Step 13

Step 3. Consider the weather

If this is an outdoor ceremony, be sure to take the weather into account. You may then need to bring an umbrella if it is raining or a coat if it is cold. Then make sure that these accessories are sober enough for a funeral.

  • Even when choosing which coat to wear or which umbrella to take, remember that you are going to a funeral. A bright pink umbrella will generally not be appropriate for the event. Always prefer a black umbrella.
  • Your coat or jacket should also be dark in color. It might be frowned upon to arrive at a funeral wearing a white cloak.
Dress For a Funeral Step 14

Step 4. Respect the wishes of the deceased

You should always respect special requests, even when they are a little wacky. If the family of the deceased asks participants to wear a specific color or pattern during the ceremony, do your best to follow the instructions. If the family chooses an original ceremony to honor their loved one, put their wishes ahead of traditional etiquette.


  • If you are unsure of the dress code, seek advice from someone close to the deceased or ask someone if your dress is appropriate.
  • For a very conservative ceremony, some women will choose to wear a simple, formal hat.
  • The family might choose to have a more joyful ceremony. If you are unsure of how to dress for this kind of funeral, do not hesitate to ask a relative of the deceased for advice.


  • If you are wearing makeup, choose waterproof mascara and a very discreet eye shadow or eyeliner.
  • Offer your seat or umbrella to older guests or women with small children.
  • High heels might not be practical for walking on lawns, especially if it is raining.

Popular by topic